Friday, November 5, 2010
Guest conversation from Astia VP Europe, Simone Brummelhuis
Astia is a community of experts, building women leaders and accelerating the funding and growth of high potential, high growth women-led start-ups.
I have read and heard this many times, it's on the Astia website, the reason of its existence, it became for me almost a mantra.
And as of this week I know, I have seen that the mantra is true.
I have never seen a group of experts more committed, more experienced, more qualified than this week. And I have never seen a group of women entrepreneurs who are so eager to be leaders and to accelerate their high potential startups. I am overwhelmed, and I am not the only one, the entrepreneurs are overwhelmed, both by the experts as well as their peers.
Last week I arrived in San Francisco -after a 22 year absence- much too long. And the occasion to visit San Francisco is the 2010 Astia Doing it Right Silicon Valley Program.
A full 43 companies and 58 entrepreneurs made it through the rigorous screening of joining this week’s program. Most are North American companies, 2 companies from Europe, 1 company from India and 1 company from New Zealand in industries of clean tech, life-science, enterprise software, medical devices, leisure and retail products.
Many of these female entrepreneurs have built a business before, some in a corporate environment, some have successfully exited their previous businesses. Some of the startups already raised their angel money, and are connecting with Astia for the institutional rounds of funding. Some of them are serial entrepreneurs or -as one woman calls herself- Startup Junkies. But what has been clear from the outset is that the class of 2010 is quite special.
I came to watch, to learn, to support the European companies, and, above all, to get ready for our European Astia program which will take place March 14-18, 2011.
From the first day of the program with a panel of impressive alumni Astia entrepreneurs - who where in the 60% success rate of Astia companies getting funding - to the last day of the program: it has been a roller coaster of panels, workshops and round tables with impressive investors, entrepreneurs, corporate heads and service providers with bios that each read as novels.
The entrepreneurs have -inter alia- stood up to present their ideas, listened to seasoned entrepreneurs who have uncovered their go-to-market strategy, calculated their financial projections together with financial wizzards, shaken hands with illustre giants of the tech industry, given out business cards to gatekeepers of venture capital firms, and established relationships with the global corporate giants.
The week was packed from morning to evening, there was no escape but go for it; a steep learning curve for all the women-led companies as never before. Also, never before were so many men and women of outstanding caliber together to support women-led companies. Tom Kosnik of Stanford, Dan'l Lewin of Microsoft, Bashkar Gorti of Oracle, Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Ventures and Bill Campbell, Chairman of Intuit. And who says that there are no women in global high positions? With Shellye Archambeau of Metric Stream, Eileen Gittens of Blurb, Andrea Zurek of XG Ventures and Renee Knee of Hewlett Packard, Astia brought forward outstanding rolemodels.
And on top of it, there was Female Internet Hero, Susan Wojcicki of Google who presented her case to give her support to the Astia female entrepreneurs.
As one of the first employees from 1999 at Google (she let her garage to Sergey and Larry), now a top 10 leader in Google and responsible for 97% of Google's turnover, while being a mom of 4 children, she puts in practice her own advice: Have a mission and you and other people can work harder for you, collect the best insights and make them your own, continue innovation and not perfection and believe in the impossible and it can become true, and KEEP GOING!
The great things is, that it's all applicable to the Astia class of 2010.
We want this in Europe too!
Simone Brummelhuis joined Astia in 2008 as a member of the Astia European Advisory Board. A former attorney, today she runs Astia Europe as the Vice President of that market. Simone lives in Amsterdam with her husband and three daughters.